Do you often feel as if you have to sacrifice in one area in order to meet your goals in another? Many who have succeeded in their professional goals will say that they regret sacrificing so much in their personal lives to get where they are. You should never have to sacrifice any of your responsibilities, goals, or happiness just to get ahead professionally. In fact, many would say that to achieve your professional goals, you need to be happy and successful in every other area of your life. That way, you have the balance you need to be able to work without distractions or stress.

But how can you go about reaching your professional goals without sacrificing your family, friends, hobbies, and other personal responsibilities? There are a few things you can do to help keep everything balanced.

Manage Your Work Online

You don’t have to spend every minute in the office to be productive and work towards your professional goals. Thanks to the many different online management tools now available, you can do a lot of work from home. In fact, your entire office might be able to work remotely. There are a number of tools out there that make this easier. You can use a remote task tool to share projects, delegate responsibility, and make sure work is progressing as it should. Instant messaging and video conference apps can keep you connected to others. Business conference calls can help you to communicate with people and make sure you, your team, and your clients are all on the same page.

Of course, you need more than these tools to successfully manage your work online. You also have to be motivated and know how to manage your time. Otherwise, you may end up not getting much done. Set aside a time to work and make sure it’s clear that you’re not available for social engagements during this time. You also need to make sure you have a work area where you can focus and that has the technology you need. Trying to work from home without fast internet, an adequate computer, and the other tools you need will make it difficult to get ahead. If your equipment makes it difficult to get work done in a timely manner, you’ll likely end up sacrificing more of your personal time to do work, and that’s not what you want.

Also be sure you continue to interact with your co-workers, get feedback from your supervisor, and generally be active in your workplace culture. In some cases, this may require you to go into the office every now and then or attend events in person. In other cases, it simply means making certain that you’re communicating effectively with everyone.  You may even want to

start having regular virtual meetings that focus on building a community rather than on a set business agenda.

Have a Plan

You likely have overall professional and personal goals, but do you have a plan to work towards those goals? If you don’t, you may end up focusing completely on one or the other, letting everything else slide. Instead of doing that, create a schedule that outlines how you’re going to reach your goals. This way, you’ll be able to spread yourself evenly (but not too thinly) so that neither your personal nor your professional life gets ignored for the other. This will also help you see where you need to focus more or what goals and plans don’t need as much attention as you’ve been giving them.

Remember that this plan needs to be flexible. If you stick to the plan no matter what, you may find that you’re starting to fail. That can mean that your plan had a few flaws in it. If you find yourself sacrificing your personal responsibilities at any time, take another hard look at your plan. Something may need to be adjusted in order for you to keep balance in your life.

Know Your Limits

You can’t give 100% of yourself to everything. It’s important that you know you’re limits and don’t over-extend or spread yourself too thin. Set realistic goals and limits for your professional and your personal life. Make sure you use your plan to make certain that you’re not overdoing it. Also look at your plan to make certain you’re not trying to do too much at once. If you try to give everything you have to several different areas, you’re not going to succeed in any one of them. Instead, you’re just going to wear yourself out.

Look to Your Mentors

Do you have a business mentor or role model to follow? If so, look at how they’ve achieved their professional and personal goals without sacrificing one for the other. They’ve made mistakes and may have sacrificed some of their personal responsibilities for their career. Don’t be afraid to ask them about it. They can tell you where they went wrong so you can avoid making those same mistakes.

If you don’t have a mentor or role model, it may be the time to seek one out. These people have been through many of the same things you’re dealing with, and they can give you advice about how to deal with many of the common issues you’ll face. They can also share how they’re able to balance all of the different aspects of their lives. 

It’s All about Being Realistic

Balancing your personal and professional life really simply comes down to being realistic. You have to know what you can do in one area without giving up any responsibilities in other areas. There’s no major trick to it—you just have to be realistic about what you’re capable of doing. In some cases, that may mean realizing that your professional goals require an extra year or two to achieve. In other cases, it means realizing that you have extra time you could contribute to working towards those goals. Either way, make sure you’re realistic about your time and resources.